William Edward Purcell, 90, passed away Wednesday, June 13, 2017, at his home in Hartshorne.
He was born on August 5, 1926, in Keokuk, Iowa, to Edward H. and Elsie Purcell. He grew up in Dallas-Fort Worth and spent his summers at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, learning to ride and care for horses.
At the age of 17, in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he gained permission from his parents to enlist in the United States Navy. He served as a gunner with the Merchant Marines and traveled through the South Pacific and India.
Upon his return from military service, he finished high school in Haileyville where his parents had relocated to teach. He then went on to study at Wilburton and Oklahoma State University, completing with a bachelor's degree in biology with concentrations in mammalogy and zoology.
Bill worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 30 years at fish hatcheries in Florida, Arkansas, West Virginia, New York, Maine and Massachusetts. Much of his career was spent on recovery of Atlantic salmon to the rivers of New England.
He married Nancy Ann Lusk, who preceded him in death in 2002. Together they raised five girls before retiring to Oklahoma to launch Blue Mountain Arabians, which propagated world class horses of Egyptian and Polish blood lines.
He was devoted to environmental preservation and was a member of numerous wildlife conservation organizations. His commitment to lifelong learning led to many interests, projects, passions and obsessions including, marksmanship, fishing, opera, aviation, gardening, old movies, antiques, oriental rugs, appreciation of foreign cultures and humor in all its forms.
Bill is survived by his brothers, Robert Purcell, of Darnstown, Maryland, and John Purcell, of Anderson, South Carolina; his daughters, Vicki Sims and Judy Schafer, of Tucson, Arizona, Suzanne Purcell, of hither and yon, and Katherine and Carolyn Purcell, of The Dalles, Oregon; three sons-in-law; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life for both Bill and Nancy Purcell will be held at the Purcell home at 876 Hartshorne Lake Road on Sunday, June 25, at 6 p.m.
Published on June 21, 2017